Municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are an important source of pharmaceuticals released into the environment. Understanding how various pharmaceuticals are distributed and handled in WWTPs is a prerequisite to optimize their abatement. Here we investigated the spatial distribution and removal efficiencies pharmaceuticals in China's WWTPs. A total of 35 pharmaceuticals in wastewater samples from 12 WWTPs at different cities of China were analyzed. Among these detected pharmaceuticals, caffeine showed the highest concentration (up to 1775.98 ng L⁻¹) in the WWTP influent. In addition, there were significant regional differences in pharmaceutical distribution with higher influent concentrations of total pharmaceuticals detected in WWTPs in the northern cities than the southern ones. The state-of-the-art treatment processes were generally inefficient in removing pharmaceuticals. Only 14.3% of pharmaceuticals were removed effectively (mean removal efficiency > 70%), while 51.4% had a removal rate of below 30%. The anaerobic/anoxic/oxic (AAO)-membrane bioreactor (MBR) integrated process and sequencing batch reactor (SBR) showed better performance than the AAO and oxidation ditch (OD) processes. Ofloxacin, erythromycin-H₂O, clarithromycin, roxithromycin and sulfamethoxazole in WWTP effluents exhibited a high or medium ecological risk and deserved special attention. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
CitationLiu, H.-Q., Lam, J. C. W., Li, W.-W., Yu, H.-Q., & Lam, P. K. S. (2017). Spatial distribution and removal performance of pharmaceuticals in municipal wastewater treatment plants in China. Science of The Total Environment, 586, 1162-1169.
- Wastewater treatment plants
- Removal efficiency
- Regional distribution
- Risk assessment